There was no light beyond the stone slab; it was absolute darkness. Xia Lei’s left eye could see in darkness but this light-less environment affected his ability too. He could only see close to 20 metres of the passage behind the stone slabs.
There wasn’t anything much in the stone passage. Floor, walls and roof were the same stone slabs, plain and bare without engraving. An oil lamp was placed every few metres on both sides of the passage walls. The lamps were Pashtun-style duck-billed oil lamps, like the Aladdin lamp in ‘The Arabian Nights’.
He did not know if the lamps were a few hundred years old or over a thousand years old. The copper was covered in corrosion and would obviously never light up again.
Xia Lei stopped using his X-ray vision since he could see no further. He reached out to push at the stone slab before him but it was held together with mortar and wouldn’t budge. Xia Lei turned back and got the impact drill. He drilled some holes into the gaps between the slabs to destroy its stability before pushing at the slab again. He managed to push it in, revealing an opening big enough for him to enter.
He did not go in immediately but used the lighter to test the air inside. The flame of the lighter was normal and it moved a little as a result of a bit of an airflow in the passage.
‘Is there a vent?’ Xia Lei was awash with curiosity. There was no problem with the air, so he entered the stone passageway. He organised his backpack after entering and followed the stone slabs further in.
He could see 20 metres in the dark but Xia Lei did not waste his energy. He turned on the tactical torchlight provided by Bureau 101. The torchlight could ‘see’ places further than his eye could in this complete darkness, and he was glad to let his eye rest.
Xia Lei’s footsteps echoed in the stone passageway and it sounded like several people were walking. A strange shadow appeared occasionally in the torchlight’s radius as if there was a ghost lurking in the dark. The hair of even the bravest of men would stand on end if put in an environment like this.
The stone passageway was not level but slanted downwards. Xia Lei counted his steps as he went and only saw the end after counting over a thousand steps. 1,400 steps - this stone passageway was 700 metres long! It was not to the point of being perpendicular but the incline of the passageway was easy enough to calculate. The end of the passageway was located 100 metres underground!
700 metres long and a drop of 100 metres was nothing much on the ground but underground, this was a great feat of engineering. It was difficult to imagine how people hundreds of years ago were able to built this underground world.
At the end of the passageway was a thick stone door two metres high and 1.5 metres wide and it looked to weigh at least a few tonnes.
Xia Lei glanced at the compass in his hand. The needle of the compass was pointing straight at the stone door and trembling more violently than before.
‘The thing I’m looking for must be behind the stone door.’ Xia Lei was excited as he walked to it.
There was a relief sculpture on the stone door of a girl from ancient times. The sculpting was exquisite; the girl was vividly lifelike, poised, graceful and elegant, and it looked like she would step out of stone at any moment.
Two Chinese characters were carved over the door: Mei Mound
‘This mound means a tomb. Mei Mound - is this Princess Yong-Mei’s burial tomb? If it is, then this stone girl must be Princess Yong-Mei, Zhu Ning-Yue.’
There was no lock on the door or any sort of latch. Xia Lei examined it closely, then went close to the stone door and called forth his X-ray vision to look beyond it.
The stone door was about a foot thick and was of normal stone so he was able to see through it easily with his power now. However, something strange happened. The back of the stone door seemed to be covered with a layer of black glue and his vision was ‘stuck’ in it right after it went through, like it had gone into mud. It was difficult to even keep his vision there, and it was costing him a lot of his energy.
What was this?
Xia Lei was stunned. He stopped using his X-ray vision.
This was his first time ever encountering something like this since he got his X-ray ability.
‘Who would put glue on the back of a tomb door?’ Xia Lei could not think of a reason why.
He was unable to see through it and unable to open it - Xia Lei was left with only extreme options. He pulled his backpack off his shoulders and took out the explosives which Bureau 101 had air-dropped to him. This was the most advanced adhesive blasting device. He put four of these units in four gaps around the door and backed away. He detonated the device.
Boom! There was a dull boom as the huge stone door thudded to the floor.
Squeaking came from the darkness the instant the door fell. A large, black mass suddenly rushed at him from behind the door.
‘That’s… Bats!’ Xia Lei had goosebumps and he held his head with his arms as he threw himself to the floor.
The bats did not let him off and had him surrounded in the blink of an eye. He felt every bite and every grab at his clothing while flat on the floor, and all of his exposed skin became the target of the bats’ attack. The bats bit at his flesh and sucked at his blood!
Xia Lei snatched up a can of fuel from his backpack in a panic and splashed fuel all over the bats on him. He then lit his lighter. Boom! Flames burst from his body and a large group of bats were set alight along with his clothes. The bats were afraid of light and the sudden flames scared them; whether on fire or not, all flew away.
Xia Lei swiftly removed his burning clothing and put the flames out on the floor. Several holes had been burnt in his clothing but he could still wear them. A defence of an extra layer of clothing was very important in this underground tomb.
Dozens of bats had dropped to the floor, still alight, screaming, struggling. Xia Lei’s gazed went to a bat and he discovered that the bats here were different from bats he’d seen. They were twice the size of ordinary bats and were black all over except for a circle of white on their heads which looked like a halo; it was very strange.
Xia Lei’s gaze went to the door again to look at its back but there was no black glue on it. It was the same material as the front of the door. He was surprised. ‘Does this mean that these bats were hanging onto the stone door and blocking my vision? They cannot be seen through?’
Xia Lei looked back at a dead bat and called forth the power of his eye. The result shook him. His X-ray vision could not penetrate the bat. Its black ‘garments’ seemed to be impenetrable to his X-ray vision and his vision was ‘stuck’ when he looked at it, just like in the earlier situation.
This place was full of strange surprises.
Xia Lei picked up the torchlight he’d dropped on the floor and speared the dark space behind the stone door with light. The darkness was dispelled and an oval chamber met his eyes. It was hundreds of square metres large, so large it was shocking.
The light uncovered exquisite stone carvings, terra cotta, as well as artifacts like weapons and ceramics. A white jade coffin was positioned at the centre of the tomb, quiet for long centuries but it still reflected a faint light when the torchlight shone on it; there was not much dust on it.
Xia Lei stood in the stone doorway and sniffed. What surprised him most was that the tomb had no smell of decay at all. The air in the tomb was the same as the air in the passageway. The ventilation here was excellent, but he still had not found where the vents were located.
Xia Lei stepped on the stone door and forward. His foot stepped on the first stone tile.
Swish, swish, swish! Dozens of crossbow bolts came shooting from the walls on the sides. Xia Lei hurriedly lay flat and rolled backwards. Dink, dink, dink! The bolts hit the spot where he’d stepped, sending up sparks!
Cold sweat was shocked from Xia Lei’s body. First was flesh-biting, blood-sucking bats, and now it was murderous hidden traps. Danger hid everywhere in this place and one could end up buried here if not enough attention was paid!
Xia Lei did not dare to be negligent anymore. He climbed to his feet and called up the power of his left eye to look at the floor. He quickly discovered that the floor of the tomb was not a simple floor. There were triggers under most of the stone tiles. Some stone tiles covered pits ten metres deep, full of iron thorns. Even celestials wouldn’t be able to save him if he fell in!
There were normal tiles too, with plain ground underneath. Xia Lei quickly found a safe route and he stepped cautiously on a normal stone tile, testing it. There were no bolts, and no hidden traps were triggered.
He took a deep breath, then went over two stone tiles with triggers below them, jumping to a safe tile. Nothing dangerous happened this time either.
Xia Lei would absolutely have to come to a tomb like this with a map of the safe route if he did not have X-ray vision or he’d perish in a few steps. Regular tomb raiders could just forget the idea of getting through this.
He quickly moved to the central area close to the jade coffin.
The terra cotta around the jade coffin were all of Ming dynasty soldiers, with weapons and armour in the style of the Ming dynasty. The soldiers looked fairly realistic, every one of them with a cold and imposing expression. It felt like he was being stared at by the undead, and Xia Lei found it eerie indeed.
He jumped towards the coffin, and the needle of the compass in his hand trembled even more. A faint buzzing could be heard from inside the compass, like the buzzing of bees’ wings. It was fairly quiet but it rang clear in this place of absolute silence.
Was what he was looking for in that jade coffin?
Xia Lei bent his waist in a jump, passing two stone tiles with triggers under them and arriving next to the jade coffin.
There was a white marble platform at the head of the coffin and a jade memorial tablet on it. The memorial tablet was inscribed with the words ‘Resting place of Her Highness Princess Yong-Mei’.
So it was indeed the tomb of Princess Yong-Mei.
Xia Lei got close to the jade coffin and awakened the power of his eye. His X-ray vision pierced the coffin…Previous Chapter Next Chapter